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Sawtooth – Queens River Loop

Location Sawtooth National Forest, ID
Queens River trailhead
Distance 30-42 miles
Total Elevation Gain 6125-10315 ft
Topographic Map

The Queens River area in the southern part of the Sawtooth wilderness is a rarely traveled area. We saw a total of one other group of hikers in our four days in the backcountry.

The views, as to be expected, are spectacular–and the loop offers a few awesome detours. However, it is obvious that the trails don’t get as much love as some of the ones in the northern half of the Sawtooths. The route is also the victim of the Little Queens Fire in 2013, which has left quite a lot of blowdowns yet to be chewed through by our beloved trail crews.

Regardless, I quite loved this little loop. It had every element you could want in a backpacking trip. The challenges, in my mind, only serve to make the trip more gratifying.


  • 10/10, would go counter-clockwise again. There is a nasty bushwack that is waaay better to go down than up.
  • Mt Everly is a fun snag on this route. Basic route finding on solid class 3 rock from Everly Lake will get you to the summit in 2-4 hours. Here is the route I (approximately) took from Everly Lake.
  • After Pat’s Lake, the trail peters in and out. Follow your compass and the river and the trail should eventually show itself.
  • Once you begin losing elevation to get to the junction w/ Johnson Creek Trail, the shrubs start to take over. You’ll be bushwacking pretty damn good until you cross Johnson creek (which you do twice, even though the map only suggests you do it once).
  • The trail to Johnson Lake no longer exists. I suspect it burned up. Even still–I wouldn’t recommend going cross country to visit or camp at. From High Pass the lake looked like a mosquito infested swamp.
  • The Scenic Lake option is so beautiful, and really not all that bad of a climb. You may lose the trail in the alpine meadow just before the lake. Follow the river.
  • If you come up to start your hike the night prior, consider spending it at the Power Plant Campground. There is a pretty nice hot springs just a quick walk from the campsites.

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